Last Saturday night, singer-songwriter Bob Warren was hoping that, maybe, just maybe, 20 or – hey, let’s think big here – 30 people might show up to see his band perform at Burton Hall in Easton.
No one there was more surprised than Bob, when over 100 people filled the seats in the tiny courthouse.
Considering that Easton is a very small town about eight miles south of Greenwich on rural Route 67 and that the Town Hall is one of those old, white, church-looking buildings that you might miss if you blink, the huge turn-out spoke volumes about Bob Warren as a performer and especially a songwriter.
Taking into account that Warren’s albums over the years have featured such heavy-hittin’ and diverse musical collaborators as Phish guitar master Trey Anastasio, country music star and Grand Ole Opry member Hal Ketchum, the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian and Paul Asbell of the Unknown Blues Band and Kilimanjaro, it’s no mystery why the crowd in Burton Hall was so large.
Warren is one of those great singer-songwriters who’s still a secret outside of the Capital Region, but has a devoted local fan-base of those in “the know” who will come out and see him perform whenever they can.
In support of his recently released, self-titled album, Warren and his band assembled on the floor at the back of Burton Hall. Made up of a who’s-who of major regional musical talents, the group kicked off the first of two lengthy and generous sets with “What A Day It Is.”
They served up a wildly eclectic batch of music throughout the evening. There were rockers and soulful ballads, pop tunes with classical overtones, down-home folk numbers and jazzy, snap-your-fingers tunes… and everything in between. The band, like its leader, is original and difficult to pigeonhole. If you don’t like one song, just wait for the next one – you’re pretty much guaranteed that it will be different and not derivative of the one before.
Throughout the concert, bassist Tony Markellis (the Trey Anastasio Band, No Outlet) and drummer Danny Whelchel (the Brian Patneaude Quartet) had nailed down the rhythm with precision. Warren’s younger brother, electric guitarist Don Warren, supplied the solid chord changes as well as some stinging leads. Lovely cellist Monica Wilson-Roach added poetic intros and bowed touches to many a tune, while keyboardist Matt Donnelly applied backing chord clusters and piano runs to more than half of the songs throughout the evening.
Warren also brought out the young and gifted Brittany Rivers, who had collaborated with him on his recent labor-of-love CD, “Only The Message Mattered: A Song Cycle Narrative Honoring Susan B. Anthony.” Rivers sang the title song of the album to open the second half of the concert, adding yet another fine voice to the mix.
Appropriately enough, Warren wrapped up the night with “Leaving Is The Only Way To Go,” a heartfelt, acoustic-guitar driven song. Gracious and humble as always, he still couldn’t believe how many people showed up to hear his band on that cold January night.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
CD review of “Bob Warren”
THE BOB WARREN BAND SET LIST
What A Day It Is
In My Next Life
The Silver Fox
Oh This Poor Heart
Better Than To Pray Like That
And to Live Right Here
Only The Message Mattered
All Over The World
He Don’t Live Here Any More
Prove Me Wrong
What Can I do?
Leaving Is The Only Way To Go